On Monday, a product was released that seamlessly combines two of my true loves, two of the things that shaped me into the geek I am today: point-and-click adventure games, and Homestar Runner. Yes, Episode One of “Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People” premiered for the PC and Wii this week, and it’s everything you’d hope it would be.
Homestar may not be quite the young cultural phenomenon it was in high school, but the Brothers Chaps are still consistently funny. The website is probably the most quotable den of geekery since MST3K. The cartoons are full of classic animated slapstick, delightful wordplay, hilariously accurate observations, delightful pop culture references, fun inside jokes enticing you to keep coming back, and some truly fascinating characters, the most popular of which has always been Strong Bad. His mischief is something we wish we could achieve, and his ego, despite his numerous shortcomings, is something we are all too aware that we have. So it stands to reason that he’d make a great protagonist for an adventure game.
What makes the genre of adventure games great is a combination of so many things. It’s a medium that allows you to tell a truly interactive story—not a passive “here’s what happened, accept it” story, but not just a collection of tasks to complete in order to win. Adventure games allow not only for plot and character development, but also fully-explorable worlds, complete with hidden secrets and easter eggs—making it the perfect fit for the Homestar Runniverse. The Brothers Chaps previously explored this with “Peasant’s Quest”, a parody of the early games in the classic “King’s Quest” series, as well as other AGI games from Sierra. “Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People” takes it even further.
Almost all the main locations show up in the game (some seem to be pointless fanservice at the moment, but one imagines they’ll factor in to later episodes), as do all the main characters (even the frequently-elusive Pom Pom), and several of the staples of the site, from Sbemails to prank calls to Teen Girl Squad, now in an interactive form. The plot is pretty funny—I confess being nervous as to whether or not the inhabitants of Free Country USA would be able to carry a longer-form narrative, but it works—and even once beaten, “Extended Play” ensures that you can go back for all the easter eggs you’ve missed.
If there’s any complaint that can be made about the game, it’s that The Cheat is criminally underused (and The Homestarmy never shows up), but with future episodes on the horizon, there’s plenty of room for more fanservice. I can’t wait for the next installment.
Also, Telltale Games announced a while back that their next big title will be “Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures”, ensuring that they are very rapidly becoming my very favorite company ever.
In less-geeky, more-real-life news, in the morning we’re headed to Cape May for The Big Ganssle Family Reunion. Should be fun times. I’ll send you a postcard. (Disclaimer: May not actually send postcard.)